Vintage G1 Transformers Action Figure Identification Tool with Pictures

Transformers Logo

Hasbro and Takara formed a historic partnership in 1984 when they reimagined Takara’s various transforming toys into the Transformers. While Hasbro was not the first American company that attempted to introduce the West to transforming toys, they nailed the execution. Previously, companies like Mattel brought over a few of the transforming Chogokin toys. Mego also had a chance to introduce the craze with their Microman license. Even Knickerbocker almost came out with the Mysterians, a planned line inspired by Japan’s transforming toys, that would have come out in 1983. However, neither made the impact of Hasbro’s Transformers.

In the early 1980s, executives at Hasbro fell in love with Takara’s Micro Change and Diaclone toy lines, which they had observed at Tokyo Toy Shows. Feeling that the unique concept would stand out in the West, they reached out to Takara and licensed several toys from the line. They also licensed multiple other transforming toys from various companies like Takatoku, Toybox, and ToyCo. Even though they had a ready cast of characters, they knew they required a story to draw customers in.

To create the mythos for their new line, Hasbro turned to the company that helped them reimagine the G.I. Joes: Marvel Comics. Happy to partner with Hasbro once more, Marvel’s Jim Shooter saw potential in the brand. So, he wrote up a six-page treatment detailing the basic story for the Transformers before he hunted down the man who gave life to the cast.

Bob Budiansky may not have been the first choice, but he clearly became the right man for the job. Throughout that Thanksgiving weekend, Budiansky put his writing skills to work as he named and wrote bios for each of the upcoming Transformers toys. Aside from Optimus Prime, all the names that we know today, such as Megatron, were drafted by him. Thanks to his hard work, both the toys and a four-issue mini-series were ready for production. The success of this mini-series easily led to a proper series that lasted for 80 issues.

Alongside Marvel’s comics, Hasbro once again called upon their ties at Sunbow to work alongside Marvel Productions. The two companies had worked together to produce the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero series. So, they understood what it took to make a hit series. This new series used many of the same voice actors that had worked with them on G.I. Joe, like Chris Latta. To ease the strain on animators, the look and the feel of the toys were simplified, often making the robot forms more humanoid.

Hasbro G1 Transformers Silverbolt

As both the comics and the cartoon became popular, Hasbro’s new toy line soared to new heights. The popularity of the new brand even brought the Transformers lien back to the country that started it all, Japan. Only a few short years after launching the brand, new characters were produced specifically for the upcoming theatrical movie, such as Galvatron and Rodimus Prime.

At the height of its popularity in the 80s, multiple companies licensed Transformers to bring the toys to their regions. For much of Europe, Milton Bradley produced the Transformers toys. Antex created the toys for Argentina while Espana brought them over to Australia. Ceji had two different divisions that localized the toys: Joustra in France and Revel elsewhere. El Greco brought over the toys to Greece. In South America, Transformers toys came from Estrela and Lynsa. Meanwhile, IGA Plasticos created the toys for Mexico.

Despite the huge success of Transformers in all formats, the fervor began to wane by the late 1980s. With the departure of Optimus Prime from the mortal plane, the animated series began to lose viewership. Likewise, the toys lost their luster. So, Hasbro decided to reinvigorate the brand in 1992 with the Generation 2 line. Most of these toys were redecos of the original G1 toys. Some of these, like Megatron, gained brand-new transformations. Unfortunately, this line did not provide enough new content to draw in profits.

Meanwhile, the Transformers continued to thrive in Japan. Under Takara’s oversight, three exclusive cartoon series appeared there. Alongside these series, three new lines hit toy shelves: the Headmasters, Master Force, and Victory. They also featured brand-new characters that never made it to America at the time.

After nearly a decade without any new content in America, the Transformers gained brand new life in the 90s with the debut of the Beast Wars. With the help of Mainframe Entertainment, the brand became a popular multi-media success once again. This excitement did not carry on to the next line: Beast Machines. Like the original series before it, Beast Wars had a Japan-exclusive series and line, Beast Wars 2.

Following Takara’s lead, the early 2000s were filled with several lines and series that came directly from the Takara branch. Beginning with Robots in Disguise, which was originally called Car Robots in Japan, the toys once again focused on vehicle transformations. Even though this series had middling success, it lead up to a trilogy that defined the era: the Unicron Trilogy.

The Unicron Trilogy was composed of three main lines: Armada, Energon, and Cybertron. Alongside each of these lines, a Japanese-produced series hit the airwaves. They also strongly focused on one of the greatest threats to the Transformers: Unicron.

After the Unicron Trilogy concluded, the Transformers began a new era with two major factors influencing the brand. On one hand, a new animated series came out with a new line of toys, Transformers Animated. Meanwhile, the Transformers made their live-action debut in 2007 with Michael Bay helming a series of films. With two radically different forms of media, the toys began to appear in multiple lines simultaneously.

Riding the success of both the movies and the latest animated series, Hasbro began plans for a 10-year cycle that they dubbed the Aligned Continuity. Helming this project was a brand new form of media: a video game produced by High Moon Studios, a part of Activision. This studio set the stage with both their War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron games, which both gained a small line of toys. Around this time, Hasbro began retooling the original G1 toys to create the Transformers: Generations line.

Following these two games, a new 3-D animated series came out, Transformers: Prime. Likewise, a new era of Transformers toys also hit store shelves. With the call-back lines like Generations and Universe as well as the movie lines also in full force, Transformers now dominated with multiple simultaneous lines. They even began to gain highly detailed and articulated lines like the Studio Series, which concentrated on the movie characters. The Aligned Continuity finally concluded in 2017 with the end of a new Robots in Disguise series.

Following these projects, the Transformers once again reset to focus on brand new lines and continuities. From 2018 to 2021, the Cyberverse series and toys aimed to bring in newer, younger fans. Meanwhile, Hasbro turned to Netflix to produce a new War for Cybertron trilogy which ran from 2020-2021. Likewise, this new series brought forth a new line of toys that aimed to please older fans. As of late, a new series and toy line has begun, Transformers: Earthspark.

Do you have an old-school G1 Transformers toy you are trying to identify? Don’t know the name? No problem! I’ll help you use this identification tool. For example, just type in “jet” in the figure name field and hit search. You’ll see all the Transformers G1 Toys that are jets. Maybe try “car” and select color “blue” and a list of Transformers matching those results will appear. Maybe you don’t know what the finished vehicle will make, so try searching by “red” only. Did you forget to remove “car”? Now search just the color “red”. Perhaps you know the name, but can’t spell it try “Wheljck” instead of “Wheeljack” and all the Wheeljack characters are listed for you.

We have all the G1 Transformers list of characters in our database. You can search by Transformers name, as well as just line or subgroup. You can identify Transformers that are all red or all the figures that are orange. The Transformers toy list can even be sorted by package type. You can identify which came with a sticker sheet, or which came without instructions. Want to know all the 1984 Transformers toys and none of the others from 1985-1990? No problem, just select the release year from “1984” to “1984”. Perhaps you just want to know the list of G1 Transformers “Autobots”, or just the “Decepticons”, our ID tool can do that.

Mostly we made this so you could see if your action figures were missing some accessories or parts. So you can see that too.

If you need additional help, please Contact Us. If you’re here for Transformers identification because you’re about to sell, note we also buy toys. Thank you for stopping.